The form of protest has been popularised in the NFL, with Colin Kaepernick having started the movement when he took the action during the national anthem last year in a protest against racism in the USA. It has gathered pace over recent weeks, leading to a high-profile spat between President Donald Trump and some of the nation’s leading sportspeople.
Hertha have been the first side to replicate the action in Europe, although it has received a mixed response.
“Anyone who believes we’ve done this for marketing reasons is not going to help the issue,” brand boss Paul Keuter told Bild . “The knee has become a symbol of a clear statement against discrimination and racism, which reflects the attitude of our club. We wanted to show solidarity not only with the US athletes, but people all over the world.
“Anyone remaining silent is an accomplice. We’ve been fighting for a long time for the values of tolerance and diversity, against any kind of violence and discrimination.
“Berlin is a colourful city and everyone who lives here should be proud of this action. I see this as our commitment to society.”
It was a gesture appreciated by former Chelsea attacker Solomon Kalou. “The whole team supports the fight against racism,” the 32-year-old said. “Kneeling is a way for us to fight this behaviour.”
The German Football Association (DFB) responded by praising the club’s actions. “We see this gesture as a general commitment to the protection of human rights,” it said.
Hertha lost their weekend fixture 2-0, leaving them 13th in the table with only two wins to their credit from eight matches so far this season.